Is it really true that America is now open for business?
I am out on the road and traveling the country. I was in Detroit, Michigan last week. I love the city of Detroit. What I found was that the doors were open but there were virtually no customers anywhere. Now granted, Detroit has had an exodus of people over the last 20 years and is by most accounts the poster child for urban decay. The population of the city decreased by four hundred thousand people during that time and remains the largest cities in American history to declare bankruptcy (filed in 2013). The streets of downtown Detroit felt empty of people for the size of the city. Even the famed GM Renaissance Center, despite its website information, was essentially closed. The doors were locked to the Renaissance Center and only two restaurants where serving customers out of twenty-seven. We are still experiencing closures due to the Covid pandemic but every news report touts the fact that America is now open for business.
This is my word from the street…
Even if America is open for business, like Detroit, we are not ready to patronize the businesses. My hotel stay was a good example. I stayed at a Marriott property and the staff were inexperienced and unprepared to serve customers. Just observing the interactions between hotel staff and guests was entertaining. The staff tried to answer simple questions from guests that did all they could to be polite and understanding, The problem was, the answers the staff gave were nonsense and the customers knew it. The rooms were not being serviced daily and the facilities were not completely functional – air conditioning, food service, plumbing had minor issues depending on the day and time. The staff had no idea what to do. This situation was observed repeatedly at multiple businesses all over town. Very few customers and relatively poor service. Stay away from the corporate owned and historically prominent restaurants and shops - lousy service and lonely places.
The propaganda from the business sector talks about “revenge travel” at the “end of the Covid pandemic”. I am out here traveling in Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan and the scene is repeated over and over again – very few customers with very poor service and accommodations.
There were a few bright spots. Detroit museums were easily accessed and navigated. The Motown Museum was in full swing and was an oasis of fun. They were sold out the day I attended. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation was also open and full of eager, knowledgeable staff. Unfortunately the Wright Museum of African American History was about as empty as I have ever seen a museum. The interesting thing I found in Detroit was that the small businesses in the less than upscale areas of the city – Market Center – were open and bustling. Black owned spots seemed to operate as if there was no pandemic in the recent past. Great food, great attitudes, and friendly patrons. Bert’s Market Place Jazz Club was serving up hot soul food and straight ahead jazz stylings. This was the most fun and entertaining spot of the entire visit. Look for the folks that still need to hustle for their daily bread. That’s where business is being done.
Is America open for business? The words I hear say “yes, we are open” but the actions I see are a big NO, NOT YET.
The Angry Man
We all know an angry man. It seems he always speaks with passion even when the words appear